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Canadian Premier League 2023 Defender of the Year Nominees

Here’s The 2023 CPL Defender Of The Year Nominees

By on October 18, 2023 0 1004 Views

Introduced just last year, the Canadian Premier League will recognize the best outfield player in the defensive end with the Defender of the Year Award.

Coming in the form of a beautiful soapstone carving of a Walrus and crafted by Quebec-based artist Ruben Komangapik, there are three defenders nominated by the league who are up for the honour.

Without further ado, here are your 2023 CPL Defender of the Year nominees:

Forge FC Manjrekar James
Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan

Manjrekar James — Forge FC

Former national team defender Manjrekar James introduced himself to the hammer this year by immediately jumping into a starting role, featuring in all but two of Forge’s regular season outings.

Leading the side for clearances (81), recoveries (190), duels won (161), and passes (1782), the numbers are clear on how vital James was in stepping in seemlessly as Daniel Krutzen‘s successor. Even league-wide, he had the second-most passes and recoveries behind Lorenzo Callegari.

The defender also added two assists to his tally late on in the season, even venturing forth and operating as a goal-hungry roaming role when the side was in need of a goal.

He’s the type of defender that can really do it all – though whether he’ll follow in Alexander Achiniotti-Johnson’s footsteps to lock in the Defender of the Year award remains to be seen.

Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

Daan Klomp – Cavalry FC

The only outfield player to run an iron man campaign this year, Dutch defender Daan Klomp is one of the big reasons Cavalry had the best defensive record in the league as they hoisted the Canadian Premier League Shield.

Klomp led the side for aerial duals won (54), clearances (81), blocks (17), and total passes (1716), the last of which was third highest league-wide. More than that, you could see his influence everywhere in the defensive third, though he also contributed four goals and one assist at the opposite end, too.

Klomp has made it no secret he’s eyed Major League Soccer heights, and 2023 was a big receipt that he may have outgrown the league. Perhaps being named defender of the year would be a big enough resume booster for a chance at a higher level?

Halifax Wanderers Daniel Nimick Goal
Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan / Halifax Wanderers FC

Daniel Nimick – Halifax Wanderers FC

After arriving to polite golf claps after going unselected in the MLS SuperDraft, Daniel Nimick has made a name for himself as not only just a top Canadian Premier League defender, but one possibly on the doorstep of a national team camp nod.

To put it simply, Nimick’s intelligence on the pitch and defensive acumen have evolved beyond what you typically see in the CPL, despite this being his first year here. The sturdy centre-back has become a defensive leader on the pitch, donning the armband when asked and only missing one match in the regular season.

Oh, and did we mention he’s scored six goals while racking up three assists with some on-a-dime, cross-pitch aerial passes? No? Well, now we have.


The 2023 CPL Awards will take place in CPL Final host city of Hamilton, Ontario on October 26, so there’ll be some wait until we see who will ultimately win the soapstone carving.

The exciting build-up to the league final will see all of the awards handed out, including the Golden Boot (which finished as a tie for Ollie Bassett and Myer Bevan, each on eleven goals), the Coach Of The Year award, the Player Of The Year award, the Golden Glove, the Best Canadian U-21 Player Of The Year, and the aforementioned Defender Of The Year award.

The rest of the award nominees will be revealed by the league over the course of the week.

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